Thursday, June 7, 2012

Scott Walker: Rising Star in Politics? Or Just Confirmation Bias for Me

Scott Walker, the Governor of Wisconsin, who survived his recall vote in Wisconsin on Tuesday, has had rumors swirl around him about reaching a higher office.  He has said that he just plans on being the governor of Wisconsin for the time being.  My question is why are these rumors swirling around him?

People much smarter than me are looking at the recall election as proof that Americans want austerity measures and hailing it as a major victory for Republicans.I am not convinced that the recall election proves either of those things.  break it down in list form, as to why I think this.

1.      Scott Walker was able to outspend his opponent nearly 7 to 1.  The same opponent, I might add, that he defeated in the 2010 gubernatorial race.  This recall election amounted to a re-match of the 2010 election in which Walker won, as well.  This time he was able to outspend his opponent thoroughly.
2.      Looking at the exit poll numbers, those who voted for Scott Walker the first time (47%) voted for him again 94% of the time.  Those who voted for Tom Barrett (34%), voted for him again 94% of the time.  Those who did not vote in the 2010 gubernatorial election (13%) voted for Tom Barrett at 54%.
3.      One of the issues of this election was whether or not people would find that a recall election is justified.  Those who thought that a recall election was appropriate (27%), voted for Tom Barrett (90%).  Those who thought a recall election was only justified for official misconduct (60%) voted for Walker 68% of the time.  Those who do not think a recall election is ever appropriate (10%), 94% voted for Walker.  Basically, the majority of people did not feel that a recall election was justified.  It really didn’t matter if Barrett got 100% of the votes of those who thought the recall was appropriate, Walker was still going to win.  What’s interesting in this number is that there are a number of people who voted for Barrett, who thought recall elections were only justified by official misconduct.  These people, likely, saw that ending collective bargaining rights as official misconduct.
4.      At the exit polls, 54% of voters stated that they approved of Walker’s handling of the creation of jobs. Of those 54%, (93%) voted for him.  46% of voters disapproved of the creation of jobs.  Of those 46% (96%) voted for Barrett.
5.      52% of people approved of the government limiting collective bargaining rights.  Of that 52% (90%) voted for Walker.  47% of people did not approve of the government limiting collective bargaining rights.  Of that 47% (89%) voted for Barrett.

I’m open to the explanation that 52% of people in Wisconsin are in favor limiting collective bargaining rights as a victory for the GOP in trying to limit unions across the country.  I just do not see how the recall election shows that Walker has a bright political future outside of being the governor in Wisconsin.  People much smarter than me are interpreting these numbers differently than I am.  People can easily say that the recall election is not justified because of their support for Walker instead of the other way around. Notable Republican politicians are looking at the possibility of a tougher stance on collective bargaining with public unions because it is apparent that people support it to a certain degree.  While, this may be true in Wisconsin, it is not necessarily the case nationally.  

It seems very probable that I have a level of confirmation bias on my part when I look at these numbers, so I would like to hear other explanations as to how Walker is a rising star in politics.

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